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When 125 Students, Infinite Expectations and Untold Critics Encircle Teachers’ 36-Hour Day

| February 26, 2012

Jean-Pierre Raynaud's 'Human Space' (1995).

Jean-Pierre Raynaud's 'Human Space' (1995).

Jo Ann Nahirny, a teacher at Matanzas High School, is writing regular pieces from the trenches, reflecting on the challenges and experiences teachers and students face every day. Here’s her latest installment.

By Jo Ann Nahirny

Last Friday night, my husband Mike and I downed a quick dinner of Chinese take-out and retired to our room shortly before seven to unwind.  I perused the Wall Street Journal, and hoped to squeeze in the New York Times before dozing off after another exhausting week at Matanzas High School. Mike settled in his recliner to continue building a scale replica of an armored personnel carrier. I had scarcely glanced at the headlines as Mike glued the rear hatch on the back deck of the miniature military vehicle—and Judge Judy screeched “You’re an idiot” to the defendant on screen—when the ping of my iPad alerted me to a new e-mail.

With two kids away at college, my father in New Jersey recovering from surgery, and my 87-year-old mother-in-law in a nursing facility in St. Augustine with a broken hip and late-stage Alzheimer’s, and 125 students, I can’t ignore my e-mail or cell phone.

“Mrs. Nahirny, I was wondering if you’ve graded my essay from earlier today.  I felt it was my best essay in a long time.”

Jo Ann Nahirni (© FlaglerLive)

Jo Ann Nahirny (© FlaglerLive)

The sender’s work sat in a pile of 124 other essays he and my other students composed that day. I hoped to plow through them over the weekend, but knew I likely wouldn’t get to everyone’s. I’d finished scoring quizzes on our 40-mile commute home as my husband drove. But I didn’t know how much more grading I’d get done; I needed to go grocery shopping, attend church, pay my bills, take the dog to the vet and run to the Laundromat since the repairman still hadn’t gotten the parts for my washing machine, which had cleaned nary  a sock for the  past two weeks.

“No, I graded the vocabulary quizzes today. I may grade the essays over the weekend. I’ll get it back to you ASAP. It’s my one night off.”

Judge Judy ended as I finished the Journal editorials.

Ping.

“Mrs. Nahirny: Could you write me a letter of recommendation for the National Honor Society? I’ve just been notified I’m eligible. I would greatly appreciate it. P.S. I need it before the end of the month.”

I responded succinctly, “Sure. Get me a brief resume listing your activities and accomplishments so I can say lots of nice things about you.”

Ping.


The Live Commentary



“Hello, Mrs. Nahirny. Sorry for the late request, but I would like to change my comparison and contrast essay topic. I would instead like to write about my two opposing personalities, a dark, satanic side of me vs. a bright, heavenly side of me. Please email me as soon as possible with your response so I’ll know I have your permission, because I have to write the essay this weekend since it’s due Monday.”

Welcome to my world:  a 24/7 teacher.

When representatives of the Flagler County Educators Association, the teachers union, met in a (more than three-hour long) session with a team of administrators and managers from the district earlier this month to begin the latest round of bargaining, one  of the first items the chief negotiator brought up was that the district wants to explore extending the teachers’  workday. (Ironically, the district last year shortened the instructional day for students by 45 minutes, as a cost-saving measure.)

Does the district believe its teachers don’t already do enough for students and that we are gypping them? Do school officials (many of whom are former teachers themselves) think educators work too short of a day, get home too early, and have time to put our feet up and relax for the bulk of the afternoon? Or that we actually have summers off?

The Nahirny Files:


Honestly,  I’ve often wished I could get a newspaper or television reporter (or perhaps an interested school board member or politician or two)  to shadow me for a day so they could see firsthand what teachers do, and what we’re expected to accomplish. They’d never keep up.

For starters, they’d have to set their alarm clock. I must rise before 5 a.m. to leave by 6, since high school teachers in Flagler have to be at their desks by 7 to comply with the district’s newly initiated “common planning” from 7 a.m. to 7:50 a.m—another cost-saving measure implemented this year. Common planning means all secondary teachers “plan” their lessons at the same time, presumably without having to supervise students. For high school teachers, that means we teach all day long, with no time during the school day to grade papers, return parent calls, write recommendation letters or anything else. Hence, I’m forced to call parents at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. to discuss their children’s progress. (Most folks don’t relish a call from their child’s teacher under any circumstances, much less one received before sunrise.)

Very little planning time actually occurs during the common planning anyway, for myriad reasons. Teachers must attend department and faculty meetings, training sessions, parent and “Individualized Education Plan” conferences and more, which occur during planning time.  Additionally, it’s hard to plan when students roam the halls freely, knocking at teachers’ doors, seeking additional help with assignments and more. When students arrive, some as early as 7, they can do whatever they want with little to no supervision. Some eat breakfast in the cafeteria or go to the Media Center, others hang out in any of the nearly two dozen different corridors in multiple buildings, or in the parking lot, or in the courtyard. I won’t speculate about what else they could possibly be doing in any of the far reaches of the sprawling, 50-acre campus, when so few adults are observing them.

We’ve been instructed as teachers to lock our doors between 7 and 7:50 a.m. and not to let students in so we can actually have a full planning period. But most of us simply don’t have the heart to do so. How can you turn your back on a kid who wants or needs extra help? Besides, if you don’t let them in then, you’ll end up doing so after school on  your own unpaid time anyway,  when students show up anew seeking to make up tests and quizzes after absences,  some of which take more than an hour after dismissal  for kids  to complete.

Last year (and in prior years) before teachers had common planning, I arrived at work by 7 anyway, because I wanted to, even though teachers didn’t have to be there until later.  Many of my colleagues did, too. It made our lives easier and kept us sane.  Essentially, I and most teachers I know donated about an hour of our time every day before school to grade papers, organize our classrooms, write recommendation letters for college-bound seniors (I wrote 56 this summer when I was “off”), update our class websites, and more.  That translates into 180 hours (or nearly five weeks per teacher of uncompensated time) contributed during the 2010-2011 school year alone.  Last year’s schedule allowed each of us to do that, plus have our planning at different times during the school day when we spent additional time attending meetings, grading more papers, and phoning parents at a more acceptable hour.


This year, I’ve lost that predawn hour I donated every day because planning occurs then. Now I’ve got almost no choice but to stay after school, usually until about 3:15 or later (an hour or more past dismissal) to accomplish what I used do to before school, leaving me less time to take care of my responsibilities at home.

And my job duties don’t end when I clock out, either. I work every chance I get; I’d drown in paperwork otherwise. For example, my husband and I commute together. In the dark mornings I drive so he can get a few extra minutes’ sleep; on the way home he drives—so I can grade papers.

Once I get home, I have barely enough time to cook and eat a quick dinner, and maybe get in 30 minutes of exercise before it’s time to start grading again. Why?  If I don’t, I’ll get a crummy evaluation.  According to the newly implemented Flagler County Teacher Evaluation Tool, based on the four domains of the Florida Educators Accomplished Practices (FEAP) a teacher who desires an effective or highly effective rating, must “support, encourage and provide immediate and specific feedback to students to promote student achievement” and “consistently provide individual feedback on assessments and make it available in a timely manner to students and parents.

How long do you think it takes to grade one essay?  50 essays?  My 125 students write about two essays per month. That’s 250 essays, each of which,  in order to do meet FEAP standards, I need to spend about five minutes reading and offering “specific” and “individual” feedback to help students improve. That equates to roughly 21 hours of grading time each month just to evaluate essays alone. But I only get about 16.5 hours of planning time for such tasks.

But that’s not all.

What about the time I need to grade other assignments like vocabulary quizzes, tests, class work journals and homework? Plus I must also prepare  lesson plans, and do all the nearly three dozen other tasks specified by the new Flagler County Evaluation tool, to include:  “align instruction with state adopted standards and the appropriate level of rigor”; “design instruction for students to achieve mastery”; “select appropriate formative assessments to monitor learning”“utilize current and emerging assistive technologies that enable students to participate in high-quality communication interactions and achieve their educational goals”; “adapt the learning environment to accommodate the differing needs and diversity of students”; “examine and use data-informed research to improve instruction and achievement”…and 30 additional responsibilities, with the most important of them (theoretically) being: “deliver engaging and challenging lessons.”

Whew!

Ping.

“Mrs. Nahirny. Help! My printer ran out of ink and the deadline is tomorrow for one of my scholarship applications. I need another copy of the recommendation letter you wrote for me. Would you be willing to print me out a new one?”

Ping.

“Mrs. Nahirny. What morning are you free? I need to make up the vocabulary quiz I missed when I was absent last week. Or I could stay after school if that’s more convenient. Just let me know.”

I’ve got to answer those e-mails; meanwhile, let me know if you can take me up on that offer to shadow me in my classroom. One of those state standards calls on me to “describe instances when community members are provided opportunities to interact with or be informed about classroom activities” and to “collaborate with the larger community on a continuing basis in a positive manner to foster learning and promote positive relationships.”

Be there in time for planning. I’ll unlock the door for you.

Jo Ann C. Nahirny, a 1985 graduate of Columbia University and a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches English at Matanzas High School in Palm Coast. Reach her by email here.

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41 Responses for “When 125 Students, Infinite Expectations and Untold Critics Encircle Teachers’ 36-Hour Day”

  1. student says:

    if the teachers didnt assign so much work they wouldnt have to use every minute of their time to grade the crazy amount of assignments they assign

    • ILoveJo_Ann says:

      Excellent article! Beyond even the highest Nahirny expectations! But what do you expect from the goddess herself? I shall be extolling her this afternoon in privacy. LONG LIVE THE-HIRN!!!

    • Dylan says:

      That’s like saying if doctors just let people die, they wouldn’t have to worry about performing so many surgeries.

    • MH says:

      The teacher assigns the work because they want you to understand every piece of the curriculum and rather then assigning just to assign it, they also grade it to give you specific feedback so you can be a better student. As a future educator, this is the kind of teacher that I want to be.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kudos to you Mrs. Nahirny…. Please keep up the great work!
    You my great lady are making a difference in these students lives, I’m sure of it.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    My deepest appreciation to Mrs Nahirny and all the teachers that I know that work so hard and mostly unappreciated, unrecognized and uncompassionate bashed . Did everyone read here those students request to their teachers for help on “their hard claiming on that broken ladder we given them now to succeed?”
    Lets vote to take the private corporations costly and benefiting politics out of our education system, so all our students are provided the tools needed to excel and be prepared for our country’s needs with proper trained skills to fill those professions and our government educated leadership when their time comes.
    Thank you Mrs Nahirny for your post and please keep writing to us.

  4. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    Without a doubt, Mrs Nahirny makes a lot of valid points in her article. It’s obvious the teacher’s work day extends well beyond the hours spent in the class room. But where I do take exception is it appears based on the language used in this article, that Mrs Nahirny sees herself as an hourly employee, rather than the salaried teacher she is. Mrs Nahirny evidently (based on her bio-line in this article) has been a teacher for many years, therefore she probably makes around $50,000 per year, which is about 165% of the average salary in Florida of $31,000. $50,000 broken down by a standard annual work week, i.e. 40hrs per week/52 weeks per year, = $24 per hour. How many jobs in Palm Coast pay $24 per hour? How many jobs in Florida pay $24 per hour? And that’s not even considering that apart from writing 56 recommendation letters , she’s really not working full time during the 12 week summer break, so in reality the hourly rate is probably closer to $30 per hour.
    But again, teachers aren’t paid hourly, they’re paid by salary. And like all salaried positions, sometimes you work a little more, sometimes you work a little less. Are early morning meetings limited to teachers? Are late nights finishing up reports, or responding to weekend emails, or long commutes all limited to teachers? I dare argue that most positions with a $50k annual salary require all these things regardless of the profession, yet only one of them get’s 12 weeks off/reduced work load in the summer, 2 weeks at Christmas, a week for thanksgiving and a week for spring break, and a decent retirement.

    I don’t take for granted all the great work teachers do, I do get however, get a little tired of the constant “we’re underpaid/under-appreciated” tag line, when the reality is, teachers are paid pretty well when compared to most other professions.

    • Cat Lady says:

      I don’t once recall her mentioning, let alone complaining that she was underpaid/under-appreciated.

    • teacher'skid says:

      $50,000 a year? Try cutting that in half and then you might be just a bit too generous. Both of my parents have been teachers for more than 30 years, and neither of them have ever had a salary close to $30,000.

      • Helene says:

        teacher’skid: FYI, a starting teacher salary in Flager County for those with a Bachelor Degree is
        $38,213 according to the County School website.

    • Teacher'sKid says:

      Johnny Taxpayer,
      As the child of a teacher, I would have to say that I take exception to what you say about the teacher’s salary. I appreciate that your response is well formulated, and that you claim to recognize all that teachers do, and I do not disagree that teaching is not the only proffession where work outside of the office is a neccessity. I would say however, that teaching is one of the only proffessions where such work is constantly undermined by the media and by a society that doesn’t seem to recognize how absolutely integral a teacher’s work is. The U.S. ranks 22nd out of 27 ranked countries as far as teacher pay, and you are also incorrect that teachers make $50,000 a year, they make less than that. You must also take into account that these men and women have gotten college degrees, the price of which far exceed the salary that they will ever make. As far as degree dependent positions, teachers make far less than the average. Also, according to my research, the average income for people in Palm Coast is between 40 and 50,000 dollars, putting teachers lin the average rather than in excess. There is a fundamental point you are missing. Teachers are fundamental, we need them, and so much is required of them that it is hard to believe that anyone could disagree with the fact that Ms. Nahriny eloquently points out–they DESERVE not only more money, but more RESPECT.

      • Johnny Taxpayer says:

        I certainly don’t disagree that teachers deserve much more respect than they get. As with all professions a few bad apples become the reality instead of the exception. I too have teachers in my family and hear their stories of parents who basically think the school system is nothing more than a free babysitting service but are the first to complain if they try to install even the slightest bit discipline or hope in little Billy or Susie. I also recognize that a teachers job is made infinitely more difficult today because of ridiculous reporting and testing standards that have very little to do with the quality of education the student receives and much more to do with how much funding the school system can achieve per head. I also recognize fully that it takes a very special person to be a teacher, especially today and am the first to admit that I lack those required traits.

        With that said, however, while the great teachers have no culpability on point one because they have no ability to make a parent be a good parent, they are very much liable and are the cause of the ridiculous, non productive testing and accountability standards because great teachers over the years have allowed themselves to be judged not on their own accomplishments and those of their high performing colleagues, but rather on the failure of their lowest performing co-workers through their unwavering support of the union’s insistence on ridiculous job protection rules like tenure and out right refusal to being able to hold lousy teachers accountable. Add in their militant opposition to anything even reminiscent of parent’s choice of where to send their child to be educated as well as their high disregard for alternatives to the standard public school factory assembly line, such as charter schools, and what you have is a failed system where politicians in Washington and Tallahassee, reacting to a frustrated public, over reach with one size fits all, top down mandated standards which are just as ineffective, in the name of “change”. Without getting into a chicken v. egg spat, had teachers allowed accountability and innovation all along, we wouldn’t have no child left behind (incidentally championed by Ted Kennedy) and the like.

        Regarding my salary estimations, it’s not rocket science. The collective bargaining contracts are posted online on the school board’s website and teacher’s salaries, like all public employees, are public record and can be found in any number of online databases. Look it up and you’ll find my estimation is actually slightly low, but very much accurate. And there are a great many professions that require a 4 year degree, where $50k is significantly higher a wage those professionals could ever hope to earn in their profession. Does that mean teachers are overpaid? Absolutely not, but they’re certainly not underpaid either when you do a fair comparison to other professions.

        As far as teachers being fundamental to our society, absolutely no argument there. So are garbage collectors, grocery baggers, fire fighters, truck drivers, lawyers, dare I say journalists/politicians, news paper delivery boys, doctors, nurses, and any number of professions that collectively allow our society to function. Remove one, and society gets a little more dicey.

    • concerned says:

      Exactly

  5. Our Jobs for Florida’s Graduates teachers find themselves available 24/7 (12 months a year) to students and former students in just the ways that Jo Ann describes. It is an exhausting, exhilarting, draining, insipring pursuit that is only for the called. Most people could not take care of the needs – academic, emotional and maturation – of hundreds of young people and then go home only to handle their stresses of their personal lives; which no doubt include barely making ends meet.

    Teachers change lives and, in doing so, they give up a big portion of themselves.

    I know it’s easier said than done but I hope when the pings come flying…you take just a tiny moment to realize that they wouldn’t be reaching out to you if you didn’t matter to them.

    • Pot Calling Kettle says:

      Be very careful Ms. Beaven, some of us know exactly how you feel about teachers and our public schools. Please don’t use those who actually make a difference with our kids for your up and coming political moves. The past is a terrible thing to get away from. I’d use your words wisely!

  6. Outsider says:

    @ Mrs. Nahirny: You and your colleagues are doing a great job!
    @student: I’d say you need to spend more time and pay closer attention in Mrs. Nahirny’s class.

  7. BE HONEST says:

    My hat comes off for you Mrs. Nahirny. You are a very dedicated teacher I have friends who are also teachers and they struggle to complete their every day responsibilities. They are always grading papers and spending time reading essays on their own time. They already struggle with low salaries and now to work on their off time with no pay is just unexceptable. Please tell me as a member of my community what can i do to help teachers get better pay and some respect around here. I really do appreciate what you and other dedicated teachers do for my childrens generation and am concerned for the next generations of teachers to come.

  8. PalmCoast says:

    Many profession have the same/similar down falls as stated above. Many profession must bring home work from the office that was not completed within the course of the work day. Follow a nurse for a day (and I am sure most will also not be able to keep up) where “lives” depend on you! Nurses can not bring home their work….they stay till it is done! (many on their own time as hospital budgets do not allow for over time)….but the work still must be done. A firefighter if called at the change of shift to a fire can’t say well I am off now so just let the building burn! Police in the middle of an arrest can’t say to the criminal “sorry” I am off shift now so you can just continue your criminal activity! All jobs have draw backs, but teachers seem to be ones whining the most about how they are over worked and under paid!! I feel more focus by the teachers to speak up as a whole about the curriculum (for realistic expectations of students then the over load the students have pressured on them) and less about the teachers pay scale and work overload would be more beneficial for students thus improving work conditions for the teacher!

    • Parent says:

      Firefighters, policeman, and medicals are all at some point considered heroes. How often is a teacher given the honor of being call a hero? Furthermore, their salary is not tied to FCAT results, as teacher’s are.

  9. Lin says:

    And I wonder how the students feel and what they think after reading another complaint about the hours put in by teachers.

    Perhaps they wouldn’t need so much extra help if the school day was lengthened instead of shortened for the kids.

  10. Carik Andrews says:

    To Johnny Taxpayer:
    I honestly don’t see anywhere in Mrs. Nahirny’s article where she says she’s underpaid. I don’t see her whining anywhere either. Perhaps you just didn’t “get it” and you don’t understand the new evaluation system she is discussing and why teachers have to spend so much time off the books working. You seem to have missed the point. Maybe you should take her up on her invitation. It seems her door is open to taxpayers like you who could gain a greater appreciation of what goes on there if you got involved and had more firsthand knowledge.

  11. Initialjoe says:

    I used to work for a school and can attest to all of the things that teachers have to do…day in and day out their job is never done. While other professions do have the same time/work constraints, teachers in this community end up receiving so much wrath. Just ask a teacher and you will find out a communities values. We are obviously not treating them well enough if they feel the need to inform us of every detail of their day to receive some sort of appreciation. It is only our education system…you know, the same one that everybody has been affected by in some way. Why not fund it? Why the constant cost savings. Has taking funding away from something always made it better? It sure does show where our priorities are…well not mine.

  12. jozefina logu says:

    This is all true.. just asked Mrs.Nahirny 15 minutes ago to write me a letter of recommendation that is due tomorrow. She agreed to write one!

  13. Kip Durocher says:

    In China there are four levels of proficiency in the teaching profession, to move up a level teachers must demonstrate their excellence in front of a panel of reviewers.
    The highest level is called “Famous Teacher.”
    It is a hugely prestigious position in China.
    All the movies that have some village problem in them they go to the teacher for advise.

    Only in America do we denigrate and under fund the people who we entrust with our children’s minds.

  14. JR says:

    Mrs. Nahirny never complained of being underpaid. What she was trying to illustrate is that teachers work all the time. It isn’t a 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (as the Matanzas high school website lists) job. I’m in a university education program, and the teachers in the local schools that I have observed and interned with that I would consider worth emulating are at school hours before the first bell, and stay hours after. I’ve even seen a teacher take a vacation day, so that a substitute would teach her class so she could handle mountains of paperwork — she was at school the entire time, helping students, calling parents and attending faculty meetings.

  15. concerned says:

    A few years back teachers received extra pay for A schools until it caught up on Fcats. Now they actually have to grade the papers instead of just putting a A on them for the extra money. They where not complaining then it was easy and they could just go home and go about there lives. Be happy you have a job and all your vacation time. You chose your career and if you do not like it do something else.

  16. Nancy N says:

    Would have found the author of this article more sympathetic if she hadn’t used the ethnically offensive term “gypped”. Not exactly the example I want being set for my child in the classroom (or anywhere else), Mrs. Nahirny.

  17. REAL WORLD RESIDENT says:

    Welcome to the real world, (Mr. &) Mrs. Nahirny. You complain as to how much work your teaching job entails and how long the hours extend, yet you have the time to take on this new outlet of writing articles here to vent your job frustrations. Do you enjoy being a teacher? Would an increase in pay make you like your job more, make the long hours worth it to you then? I know for a fact that you are an excellent teacher, and that you are devoted to the success and advancement of your students. In retrospect, you should be thankful that you even have a job that comes with great benefits, and that you can commute with your husband. Many people do not even have that or come close to that, and they are not offered the public ranting venue that you are utilizing. Also, many other jobs and/or professions have just the long and stressful hours as your job, but not nearly the pay. What is your intention here? The insight that you give into your work day is coming off as resentful, unhappy and dark. Too bad because you do give a bright light to many a student’s future.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Real World, three things.

      First, I solicited Ms. Nahirny to write these pieces, which provide a perspective no reporter, columnist or outside “experts” can provide. The only problem with the pieces is that they’re written at too lengthy an interval–because she doesn’t have time to write more frequently.

      Second, anyone is offered this public venue, from any persuasion, so long as the writer can write, has something reasoned to say, can say it compellingly, and–unlike you–is willing to use his or her real name. Few people match those qualities. And even fewer are willing to put their job on the line, as Ms. Nahirny is doing, to exercise what ought to be a given: their right to speak their mind without fear of retribution or criticism that dates back to sharecropping days.

      Which brings me to my third point: to tell someone, anyone, no matter the economic circumstances, that she should be thankful she has a job is insulting on so many levels we’d need the Empire State Building’s elevator to hit them all. But it’s revealing of the state we’re in, economically and geographically: a state where workers are presumed to be subservient to whatever their companies or bosses tell them to do because, after all, they’re lucky to have jobs, and where the likes of you pile on that same mentality without thinking about its implications: it reduces workers primarily to bit pawns at the mercy of their employers instead of elevating them and respecting them in accordance with the critical work they do. Where’s the outrage at the Legislators and chambers of commerce who cheapen their profession (as they have been doing in this god forsaken state), undermining their classroom autonomy, burying them in a bureaucracy of bogus accountability, and of course paying them the dirt wages Florida is so famous for? Why must other people’s pathetic wages be the standard by which we rate and pay our teachers? What Medieval ledger is that logic coming from?

      The outrage is there of course, but it’s directed at teachers, when they “complain” and raise issues about what’s becoming of their profession, and in no small measure what’s becoming of our children’s education. If this piece isn’t a wake-up call about the sorry state of our fictional accountability culture, I don’t know what is. (And between what lines are you reading that Ms. Nahirny is looking for a raise?) In sum, your criticism, “real world resident,” is as misplaced as your handle is a misnomer.

      Of course, if you’d like to more broadly respond to Ms. Nahirny, with evidence, you’re welcome to try. Better yet: take up Ms. Nahirny on her invitation, and write us your resulting impressions.

      • REAL WORLD RESIDENT says:

        Pierre Tristam:

        You having solicited Ms. Nahirny to do these trench pieces still gave her the option to say ‘no’ to you due to her time constraints. Her recurring articles that you have solicited from her still come off as having a complaining tone to them. That is what my comment reflected. It seems that I have struck a nerve with you regarding my comment. That was not my intent. I was merely relating my observation. I have insight into what goes on in Ms. Nahirny’s classroom, in her personal life as well as within the school and Education Board. My daughter had Ms. Nahirny as a teacher, so I am full aware of the personal sacrifices that she (Ms. N) daily gave for her students and family. It has not gone unnoticed nor unappreciated by us.

        Regarding your second “point”, have you solicited the ‘day-in-a-life’ of a Jane or Joe Q. Public who has a grueling job in the private sector? You put yourself on a high-and-mighty horse stating that not many people possess the abilities to compellingly write their story. Of course Ms. Nahirny falls into your elite category as she is highly educated, intelligent, and teaches English. It doesn’t make her account any more trying than anyone else’s. As to my chosen editorial name: why do you give the option for someone to use an alias or be anonymous if you have such a problem with it? And perhaps you should ask those teachers that have been laid off (some from the same family) why they no longer are employed in the Flagler School System. Their answer would be “budget cuts”, and not retribution from writing experiences of being a teacher.

        Regarding your third “point: way to twist my words on that one. Of course being thankful for one’s current job is reflective of today’s hurting times and economy. This does not mean that they are mute workers regarding issues that may need improvements or tweaking. In Ms. Nahirny’s case, it still comes off as complaining especially when she is in control of many of the issues that she feels is forcing her to be a 24/7 teacher. She partly blames the teacher re-evaluation process and criteria.

        So, for you to attack my real world view as a resident makes me wonder why you are stroking the ego of people who don’t need it nor deserve it. You need to wake up and become a “real world resident”, too. All I see is your negativity clouding your slanted vision and fueling your pessimism. Get your head out of the sand, and take a breath of fresh air to give life to your brain. I am not a delusional resident as PALMCOASTER hints. I am the hard-working middle-class, working for everything that I have. Sorry, I do not have the unions having my back, though. Won’t be retiring at a young age either, as the loans for putting our kids through college will forever loom, and medical expenses for those kids keep mounting as well. But that is another whole can of worms.

      • Right Is Right says:

        Did you actually read what was posted by Real World or were you looking for a victim to act as a spring board to spew your liberal tripe?

        To your first point,
        Just because you solicited Ms Nahirny to write this, doesn’t mean that she has to put such a negative spin on her teaching job. Guess what, many people are unhappy with their jobs and they work extremely hard. You know what? If things are that bad, they find a different job. It’s a free country (for now). If her job is so awful as depicted in this article, why not try things out in the private sector? She may appreciate her level of pay and benefits. And let’s not forget who her ultimate employer is, the taxpayers and parents. If anyone showed this negative attitude to their employer, most would be out on the street.

        To your second point,
        Ms Nahirny has the right to speak her mind without fear of retribution or criticism, but that doesn’t seem to apply to Real World? I don’t think I have ever seen a bigger attack by a liberal elitist in anything I have ever read. In regards to your comment “In sum, your criticism, “real world resident,” is as misplaced as your handle is a misnomer”. Time for a reality check Pierre, you’re an editor of a third rate online site. Who are you to judge?

        To your third point,
        What world are you living in? Who’s cheapening their profession? There is no better represented group of employees in the country. They pull at the heart strings of the tax payers, convince them that their children are doomed unless the school budget sees all kinds of increases, organize to vote in politicians that cater to them, and continue to strangle the tax payers. The only reason that is not happening at the same rate in Florida as it is in other parts of the country is that people migrate to Florida to escape high taxes and big government. They vote with that agenda. Plus, there isn’t the wealth to tap in Florida as there is in other parts of the country. Ms Nahirny should look at a job in the northeast, teachers are much better organized up there and have the tax payers bent over a barrel. Of course it should only be a year or two before their economy totally collapses like it is about to in California.

        And for you to make a comment “tell someone, anyone, no matter the economic circumstances, that she should be thankful she has a job is insulting on so many levels”. How is that insulting? Are you one of those that doesn’t believe in the free market that built this great country? That sometimes demand for a profession will not exist or pay to one’s expectation because of free market conditions? Are you one of those that demands that the government controls and manipulates, creating artificial markets and artificial pay scales that will eventually doom this country and bury it in debt? Shouldn’t you be occupying something and protesting the 1%? Or demanding free healthcare at someone else’s expense?

      • student says:

        the teachers do get paid pretty well. they do work hard and get an honest days pay. if they really need more money to make ends meet. they get the summer off. so if they are so in need of money they can go get a job during the summer. many familys like mine total house income with three people working which include me and my parents doesnt even equal the amount a teachers yearly salary is.

  18. palmcoaster says:

    Kudos FlaglerLive!!
    Then these “real delusional world residents”, are the same detractors of our teachers, other public service workers, students, retirees, and unions, the poor and the middle class, while claiming that “we, are the one’s wedging a class warfare”

  19. PalmCoast says:

    Pierre Tristam

    I believe REAL WORLD RESIDENT posted to “their” opinion!
    Which I also believe is what these postings are on this web site to any article presented here. I don’t think REAL WORLD RESIDENT was criticizing but merely stating his opinion. (which as we know…we all have one…lol) I did not find your post to be of any “evidence” but thus more criticizing of one’s opinion . But I also feel (my opinion) maybe doing more productive things verse posting accounting’s of Mrs. Nahirny stressful day on a public open forum would allot her more time for other things that she may enjoy, due to her pressing time restraints. (as stated per her article)
    Maybe contacting other professions to get a “slant” on their responsibilities and daily challenges would be interesting. Maybe also a look at a student’s day in the life of a high school student could also provide some insight into a teachers work day. Since the article states “experiences students” also face. Which I did not find any reflection of a student’s day within this article.
    I worked 18 years as a Registered Nurse before a combative patient left me with a plate and screws in my neck and rotator cuff tear (along with other injuries). So I can first hand say there is no more stressful job then when a patient codes and you as the nurse must try to save that person….that is life and death rolled into one day at work. Nurses are not out for a pat on the back, nor paid the wage they should if life and death equate with a salary. No one seeks out nurses to write about their day nor do nurses want a forum to do that. I know as a nurse I could not say “oops” and use an eraser to fix a grade that was mistakenly given. Nurses don’t have erasers! Everything a nurse does “is” critical to a patient and their well being. Yes nurses come by their profession through teachers, and those teachers are nurses themselves. So to formulate that teachers are just teachers and the world would not be what it is without the grace of our public teachers does degrade other forms of teachers.
    And “YES” nurses are also are evaluated. Most professions are. They are evaluated by their “patients” and their charge/head nurse for job performance and must meet state standards and when they are not caring for a patient they too are drowning in paperwork.
    Kuddos to the many men and women that choose the job they currently hold. With prayers they enjoy their job as much as I enjoyed nursing.
    I also wanted to give you my real name, Lorraine McAdams to dispel any thoughts of ” fictional accountability”. I have no problem stating as you so well put it “is willing to use his or her real name” to my opinions, along with my “right to speak their (my) mind without fear of retribution or criticism”.

  20. Max says:

    ~~ I wish there were more teachers like Mrs. Nahirny. I never had a teacher that actually teaches something or reads essay’s. Everytime a student brings home progress reports the parents think the student isn’t doing something when there is only two assignments graded within a three month period. When I ask to do work in school, the teachers who don’t do anything say, “I don’t get paid enough.” Teaching isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about helping students. I mean these teachers are basically creating the future. I think teachers should get paid on how well they teach. I hate skipping chapters because a teacher can’t teach it. I hate looking up 10th grade biology answers and finding the same worksheet on a third grade teachers website. Maybe they should have another Teacher’s Planning Day and instead of the teachers staying home and sleep, I think they should all have a meeting and Mrs. Nahirny should show them how to teach. And maybe she won’t have to work so hard after school and before school helping HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS the difference from there, their, and they’re or two, too, and to.

  21. H M Petishnok says:

    My daughter is a teacher. My son in law is a teacher. My daughter in law is a teacher. My sister in law is a teacher. Together they have more than 100 years combined experience. I can tell you that everything this teacher is writing is true, and unlike other commentators on this site, I commend her for not resorting to insults and personal attacks. This is a public forum for opinions is it not? But why attack the person? You can intelligently discuss ideas. Anyway, from the dozens of family meals, more like hundreds, that my teacher family members have had with me I can say if you were in their shoes you would understand. My family members have had sex offenders as students (and other parents and students were unaware and never told and teachers could not reveal it. They have had kids in their classes with police records younwould not believe. They have had kids who were sexually assaulted or being raised by negligent or alcoholic parents. It is incredible what teachers are expected to be and do for some of these kids. Once my daughter contacted a parent about a student who was struggling, and the parent said the teacher was exaggerating. Turns out the kid was struggling because the kid was nearly blind in one eye parent never noticed but my daughter did. My teacher relatives are always buying tissues, soap, paper towels, pens, pencils and more out of their pockets for the kids and classrooms. I have even bought stuff on sale to give them, too because I see what they are spending. I would not encourage my daughter to be a teacher if I had to do it all over because teachers are blamed for everything, and do not get the respect they deserve. The comments here illustrate that!

  22. PalmCoast says:

    Max
    I am thinking you are a student! I read your post as from a students view which was a nice read. I don’t think anyone has or would even question Mrs. Nahirny qualifications or her effectiveness as a teacher. From all that has been said and your statements as well, she (Mrs. Nahirny) is definitely the type of teacher and role model we would like to see more of in our school system. That is why I feel the evaluation process of teachers is so very important., to bring forth the best of the best to our children’s education. While the evaluation process of the teachers has not been worked out as of yet or in place at this time, I believe it is a ray of hope to make most if not all the teachers in our school system as qualified and effective a teacher as Mrs. Nahirny.

  23. a teacher's spouse says:

    My darling teacher (DT for short) comes home quite frequently with homework, projects, and tests to grade. DT is contracted to work from 7 until 230 with a half hour for lunch. DT puts in at least 7 contracted hours, then an additional 1 to 6 hours getting the classroom ready for the next day depending on the assignment, classroom evaluations, testings, etc. Even today DT will be there until at least 530 this evening. So if DT’s hourly rate were something like $24 an hour for a typical 40 hour job, wouldn’t that mean that those overtime hours – since DT doesn’t get paid overtime or comp time (as most salaried employees get) – would drop that per hour rate down to $20.90/hr. Then when DT get’s home and spends another 1 to 2 hours nightly prepping or grading or upgrading skills in order to improve teaching and learning – that hourly rate has just dropped to $17.70/hr. (We haven’t even started pulling out taxes and insurance yet which is almost $1000 monthly).

    Sure that seems like a lot of money still. And I can keep talking about the money… because that seems to be what all the comments are about, but the truth is the article isn’t about the MONEY.

    It’s about TIME.

    Sure, it would be wonderful if when students took a day off from school through holiday’s or teacher workdays and even the summertime if a teacher did the same thing. But truth be told, this was our first christmas vacation that DT wasn’t in the classroom. However, DT was still preparing for classes. Even our summers are cut short because DT is in the classroom preparing for the new school year.

    TIME. We all want more time. NO ONE becomes a TEACHER for the paycheck. Teachers TEACH for the LOVE of it, the PASSION of it, the MINDS they get to help mold. But teacher burn out is far higher than it used to be. Read this article, it’s very enlightening http://www.jointhefuture.org/blog/537-teacher-attrition-and-education-policy

    With all the changes in laws and budgets, teachers have to justify themselves like never before. And I’m sure that as with ANY job there are always some SLACKERS who are happy to pass a student just to get them out of their class. But there are FAR MORE who are like my DT who do it for the LOVE of it and will fight to continue to do it.

    Teaching is HARD WORK. 80% of a teachers time isn’t even spent teaching. WHAT?!?!?!?! Yep, and before you suggest that it’s because they are slacking off – you should really be a fly on the wall. No, 80% of their time is spent managing their classroom, yes believe it or not even at the HS level teachers are STILL babysitting, grading (could you imagine grading 130 vocabulary tests, pieces of homework, finals, projects, essays, etc, then entering ALL of them into skyward… yea STUDENT teachers LOVE LOVE LOVE giving out copious amounts of homework), setting up labs or projects, answering parent emails, answering teacher emails, answer student emails, creating lesson plans, keeping their certs up to date, buying supplies, writing referrals, going to meetings, making copies, fiddling with technology, preparing for evaluations, preparing midterms, preparing final exams, grading those midterms and final exams, having parent teacher conferences, writing letters of recommendation, stopping fights, correcting behavior, the list could literally go on and on and on. How students who have been alive for at LEAST 16 years still don’t know to be quiet in class, not be disturbing, keep their mobiles turned off, do the assignment instead of sleeping, not write notes to each other, and ultimately take responsibility for their education is BEYOND me. Of course, these are just a few of the things that students do – and it isn’t all of them. But for a teacher to even HAVE to address them at the High School level is ridiculous.

    No one in the corporate world would settle for these working conditions at that pay. And yet school administrators and school board employees continue to make FAR MORE that most teachers and don’t do as much or do just as much and never surpass them.

    As the spouse of a teacher, I understand how they are affected. I know how much time is given up for my DT to pursue a passion. We make compromises because of it. The only complaint in our household is the lack of respect. The lack respect of what teachers do and what they give up and what their families give up. The lack of respect for good manners. The lack of respect for individuals trying to learn. The lack of respect for the educational system as a whole. The lack of respect by some parents. The lack of respect from politicians. The lack of respect of their time.

    So before you start complaining that teachers are always complaining, perhaps re-read the article. If you see negativity – that negativity may be something personal. Maybe you are jealous because you wish you had 2 months of summer off during the year – most teacher contracts are only 10 months long, not 12, some have to reapply for their positions because the way contracts are negotiated or schools may have to find younger teachers because they are paid less and the school budget has been cut. Maybe your a parent and tired of always being told your student isn’t working hard enough and putting in the effort or always being disruptive. Maybe you are a student who thinks TOO MUCH HOMEWORK is being given out – then don’t go to college because it only get’s worse.

    Remember what this article is REALLY about. It’s about TIME. Not dollar signs, TIME. I’ve never heard anyone going to their grave wishing they had more money.

  24. PalmCoast says:

    A Teachers Spouse
    DT sounds like a wonderful teacher just like Mrs. Nahirny. I agree to be dedicated to a profession you must first love what that profession is. “All” professions have drawbacks….not one profession lays with all positive aspects. I am sure if we polled all working individuals to: Would you like to get a paycheck for staying home from work? The overwhelming response would be “yes”.
    BUT: I do feel to continually address “only” teachers and their work day, berates any other profession. Even your friendly Wal-Mart greater has drawbacks to their day. I am sure when they come home their feet hurt and they have encountered several rude people during their work hours.
    In any position there are exceptionally good apples thus there are many sour grapes in the mix of the fruit of any profession.
    I have taken the time to read the teachers contract which must be posted on the schools web site of which Flagler County’s teachers contract is at: http://flaglerschools.com/content/union-contracts for anyone interested in reading it.
    I found the “APPENDIX” at the end of the actual contract to be very enlightening.
    Some highlights taken from that contract I wanted to share are below.
    Maximum student instructional contact time shall be twenty-five (25) hours per week.
    The principal shall give the teacher twenty-four (24) hours written notice (hard copy or email) prior to visiting the classroom for formal evaluation purposes.
    The Board shall provide, without cost to the employee, group term life insurance for a twelve (12) month period at a minimum amount of fifteen thousand ($15,000) dollars for each teacher.
    $385.29 per month per employee toward the cost of medical insurance protection for a twelve-month period.
    $3.42 per month toward optical insurance protection for a twelve-month period.
    $17.90 per month toward dental insurance protection for a twelve (12) month period The Board shall provide, without cost to the employee, Long-Term Disability Insurance for a twelve (12) month period.
    Teachers shall receive six (6) paid holidays.
    This is only some of the list of benefits the teacher receives…this is NOT an inclusive list.
    A starting first year teacher salary in Flagler County is $38,213.00 (Bachelor degree is required) that salary does not include the stated benefits above.
    Salary is important for supplying a job. No one can really think they will get paid to do nothing. Every person who works looks for recognition and respect in their area of profession. BUT I don’t see why it must always be just about the teaching profession speaking out to the trials and tribulations of their work day.
    As my post here above to this article prior, I worked as a Registered Nurse which by profession required me to save lives. Can the salary of a nurse be equated with the cost of one’s life? Of course not, but none the less if a patient coded, I would pour blood, sweat and tears in all attempts to save their life. I further cleaned many a bedpan in my time and that too with having a college degree.
    YES!!!the teachers that are actually making a difference in a child’s life need recognition and respect!! And that should be reflected through salary increases. That is again why I believe in evaluating teachers for the job “they do” not as a collective whole, per a blanket union contract currently used. No good teacher would ever miss an opportunity to show their boss they are a shining star in their profession, thus increasing their salary. By evaluating teachers it will help weed out those “sour grapes”.
    Please give DT a kiss on the cheek from me (and one also goes to Mrs. Nahirny) for blessings of the outstanding performance of a job well done! As well to other teachers who truly make a difference! Blessings to all who have done an outstanding performance at a job well done at their profession!!

    • a teacher's spouse says:

      Dear PalmCoast
      I appreciate your support. But I’m confused.

      How are teacher’s berating other professions? Prior to my layoff I was a computer programmer. I worked HARD. I brought home work, I was attached to a mobile phone for part of my work. I traveled frequently. But I was compensated and I was willing to be compensated for my time. You don’t hear many if any computer geeks complain at all. Why? Probably because our industry KNOWS that they aren’t going to get much out of us if we aren’t happily compensated. Besides I know what my time is worth. My time away from my family is worth a lot.

      Let’s talk about that Wal-Mart greeter. What exactly do they have to complain about? Are they under pressure from their employer to perform based on government policy? Do they bring work home? I would actually like to know. If I worked at Wal-Mart I would be complaining, the pay is low & they have to be on their feet all day, they probably don’t always deal with the best of customers and they are asked to work a lot. The attitudes of some of the employees there obviously reflect the way they are treated, because I know I’ve been treated poorly as a customer.

      I also have several nurses in my family. Kudos to you in healthcare! It’s a tough but rewarding job from what I gather – but certainly NOT for everyone. My aunt is a NP and studying for her PA license. She makes over $100k a year. She’s been a nurse for almost 30 years and she also works in a doctors office. She never once complained about her pay or her lack of time with her family. She complains mostly about doctors and insurance companies. My brother is also a nurse, he worked for a transplant organization and then a traveling nurse. Again, he never complained that know one respected his time on the floor. When he came back to a hospital full time, if he was asked to work longer – he was compensated. I don’t really remember any of them bringing ANY work home other than a pager or a mobile phone. Neither complain about time away from their family. Neither bring home work. Neither would work for free.

      What about a garbage man. That’s a job that has some complaining involved I’m sure. What job doesn’t? Does he bring his work home? Does he have to respond to customer emails when he is off the clock? How is his job evaluated?

      What about a welder? A mechanic? A retail associate? An accountant? A shop owner?
      All jobs are going to create a certain amount of complaining, it goes with the territory of being a human being! But to assume that teachers who complain are berating other professions is ridiculous. Teaching and everything else is like comparing apples to oranges. Just as being a doctor to being a nurse, or an accountant to a retail associate. If the pay is commensurate with the job, and teacher’s get paid a fine salary working their contracted hours – then I would agree. However, they are being asked indirectly to work past their contracted hours without compensation. And this shows a complete lack of respect. If you are asked as a nurse to work your 36 hours in the hospital based on your regular contracted pay, and then you were indirectly-asked to work 10 more hours a week for nothing – would you stand for it? But, if you knew that your job was going to suffer or you might not have a job because you didn’t – what would you do? Would a doctor? Would an accountant? Would a retail associate? Would a garbage man? Would you get up and leave? Find a new career? A lot of teacher’s do.

  25. PalmCoast says:

    Good Morning.. A Teachers Spouse
    So sorry I did not see this post till this AM. Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I certainly would have responded back sooner if I had seen your post sooner. (sorry again for the late response)
    I would like to answer the questions you asked of me. To the term berating other professions – the term I used was referencing: as to belittle, condemn or of lesser impotence. The article above reflects the view of a teachers day. My comment to berating: many articles such as the one above, seek out a teacher to speak of their work day. Other professions are not sort after as to their importance to rate such a platform of time. I feel “every profession” has its importance. Even the Wal-Mart greeter! Again I say no job/profession has all positives to a work day. But none the less, is there any profession without its complaints and drawbacks? Yes I do believe the more degreed (educated the position) or experience required the more the stresses are to the work day.
    Thank you for your kind words for my choice of profession. I was truly fortunate to love what I did for a living. I whole heartily agree with you that not everyone is cut out for the same profession, such as nursing or being a teacher. Thank heavens for that on many levels. Because I surely could not see myself as the Wal-Mart greeter….lol. I as a nurse had to give up much family time!! Working as a nurse required me to work every other week-end, every other Christmas (alternating Christmas Eve with Christmas Day) as I did not get both off per year as well the same with New Years Eve/Day. I was compensated as to only the day being the holiday even if I had to work it. With having 3 children at home and divorced this presented problems as you can imagine. My employer made attempts to schedule to per requests but that did not always work out. Nurses are not paid over time. Hospitals do not budget over time. So again if the work was not done in the allotted work day frame, it was up to the nurse to remain on her own time to finish what was needed.
    Teachers are not required to answer their phone or open e-mails related to their position after hours (many don’t). Yes a good teacher will do that… answer phone calls or e-mails of a parent/students after work hours. BUT I do feel as this is not being a requirement of the position, it cannot and should not be compensated for.
    I would like to re-peat a statement I made in my other post above, as I believe this is what truly goes to the heart of the issue: ” YES!!!the teachers that are actually making a difference in a child’s life need recognition and respect!! And that should be reflected through salary increases. That is again why I believe in evaluating teachers for the job “they do” not as a collective whole, per a blanket union contract currently used.”
    Thank you so much for responding to my post! I very much enjoy and intelligent, informative discussion (as you can well see…lol) Wishing you and your spouse love and happiness each and every day!

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